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With Newton making way to US, it’s been 20 years since a tropical storm hit Arizona

Firemen removed a palm tree felled by Hurricane Newton in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Newton slammed into the twin resorts of Los Cabos on the southern tip of Mexico's Baja California peninsula Tuesday morning, knocking out power in some places as stranded tourists huddled in their hotels. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

PHOENIX — Tropical Storm Newton is threatening to bring some rain into the Phoenix area, but as recent history suggests, the storm won’t have much strength.

Only five storms in history have maintained that tropical storm strength all the way to Arizona, according to the National Weather Service.

“We had a tropical storm in a greatly weakened state move into Arizona in 1997,” said Jim Meyer, senior meteorologist in Tucson.

Tropical Storm Nora brought Yuma its wettest day on record, Meyer said, when almost four inches of rain fell in one day.

“We’re far enough inland that storms have a really hard time making it intact this far north,” he said.

Normally the Eastern Pacific hurricanes break up as they cross the tall mountains in the Baja Peninsula, Meyer added.

“They can regain some strength as they enter the Gulf of California, but they don’t usually stay there very long and then quickly make landfall again,” Meyer said.

Another difference from Newton is the fact that Nora was stronger (Category 4) when it was in the Eastern Pacific before it started interacting with the Baja Peninsula, he said.

Nora was also drawn up to Arizona quickly enough that it didn’t have as much time to fall apart as most of the storms heading up from the southwest do.

“It was sort of a Brooklyn strike for Yuma,” Meyer said. “The trajectory wasn’t interfered with quite as much from the Baja Peninsula, and it came in faster.”

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